Women-Only Cycling Issues Explained

Other Vaginal Issues

Several disorders related to the vaginal area are lumped under the term "vaginitis." Three of the most common problems women experience are vaginitis (sometimes referred to as crotchitis), bacterial infections and yeast infections. Some causes of these problems include warmth, moisture, poor hygiene, overzealous hygiene, chafing of the inner labia, oral medications (such as antibiotics) and allergies.

Crotchitis is irritation or inflammation of the inner labia, urethra, clitoris and the skin around the vagina. Redness, itching and pain are trademark symptoms. Crotchitis is different from saddle sores. Both conditions, however, share some of the same causes such as friction, pressure, warmth and moisture. The preventative measures for saddle sores will also help prevent crotchitis.

Keep the crotch dry and ventilated when off the bike. Breathable fabric underwear and loose fitting shorts or dresses will allow air to this area, making it less inviting for germ growth. After urinating, wipe from front to back or pat the area dry. This reduces the chances of contaminating the vaginal area with stool. Aggressive wiping and rough toilet paper can also irritate the area.

Once you have crotchitis, a non-prescription cream may relieve the itching and help make a bike ride more comfortable. This can be particularly helpful if crotchitis occurs during a multi-day bike tour.

A second type of vaginal problem is bacterial vaginosis. Its primary symptom is foul-smelling, profuse, watery vaginal discharge. Typical treatment includes an antibiotic prescribed by a doctor.

Yeast infections are the third type of vaginal problem. They often produce vaginal discharge, which is thick, foul-smelling and is accompanied by intense itching. After a doctor confirms the condition is a yeast infection, reoccurring yeast infections can be recognized by the woman and treated with over-the-counter medications.

The vaginal environment is a delicate balance of organisms, including normal bacteria and lubricating secretions. When normal secretions are replaced by a discharge that is smelly, unusually thick, or copious, or the vaginal area becomes inflamed or itchy, it is time to seek help. Do not allow a small problem to expand to a larger one.

Hopefully, this information helps prevent further problems.

For more information on this topic, consult “Bicycling for Women” by Gale Bernhardt.

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Gale Bernhardt was the 2003 USA Triathlon Pan American Games and 2004 USA Triathlon Olympic coach for both the men's and women's teams. Her first Olympic experience was as a personal cycling coach at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. Thousands of athletes have had successful training and racing experiences using Gale's pre-built, easy-to-follow training plans.

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